In an excoriating attack on the way the various states were inadvertently pushing up prices because each was competing against one another, Andrew Cuomo has said he was “paid to look after the people of New York”.
Yet he said the result of this was to push up the prices, something that was hurting the state at a time when its economy was being hit hard by the economic turn down.
The governor defended his decision to try and stockpile as many as 30,000 ventilators, saying he was doing so because he estimated this was how many the state may need when the anticipated apex of infections hit in 21 days.
“I’m not a medical expert, even the medical experts can’t tell you what you’re going to need here at the high point. They do numerical projections, and then you plan based on the projection. You plan based on the data, based on the science, based on the numbers. The data says that is the high point of need,” the governor said on Saturday.
“You could need 140,000 hospital beds, and you could need 30,000 ventilators and that’s what the numerical projections say. So we’re planning for that, quote unquote, worst case scenario, which the models predict.”
Mr Cuomo also postponed the state’s primary election from April until June, to avoid people gathering.
Mr Cuomo’s comments same a day after Donald Trump attacked him on Twitter saying that ventilators sent to New York should be deployed immediately.
The point is, ‘Well they’re in a stockpile, you must not need them’ is just ignorant — of course you don’t need them today!,” Mr Cuomo said on Friday. “You need them when you hit the apex, which is 30,000. We’re not there yet.”
On Saturday, he continued to defend his planning preparations, saying he had no wish to buy expensive equipment he did not need. At the same time, if he failed to prepare for the worst he would not be doing his job.
The comments underscore what has emerged as a potential major problem as the crisis has played out in the US, and Mr Trump has sought make the individual states take responsibility for tackling the disease, with the support – but not leadership – of the federal government.
Several state governors have condemned this approach, among them Washington governor Jay Inslee who told Mr Trump the governors were looking for a quarterback like “Tom Brady”.
On Saturday, Mr Cuomo said the total number of infections in the state had reached more than 52,000 people, and the death toll had reached more than 700.
“The government has said they have sent us 4000 ventilators; those 4000 ventilators are not currently in use. Why? Because we don’t need them,” added Mr Cuomo.
“What we’re doing is we’re planning for that apex, we’re planning for the critical need, and making sure we have the equipment the staff, the beds, for that critical need.”
He said the cost of the machines had increased from $25,000 to $45,000 as other states had sought to buy them.
He added: “We’re literally bringing up the price ourselves.”